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Aryn Cimmerer


English I

8 January 2018

Walter Lee Younger’s Diagnosis

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, The median age of onset for bipolar

disorder is 25 years old. Someone who is younger, and might have a family. Like Walter Lee. The idea

that the main character, Walter Lee Younger, has a mental disorder is strongly emphasized throughout the

story “A Raisin in The Sun”. Walter Lee would dance on tables, yell at his mother and wife, he’d go to

bars to get drunk, and he’d also had dreams that seemed near to impossible to achieve. These deranged

actions can prove that Walter Lee Younger has a disorder known as Mania. Mania has the symptoms of

irritability, excessive confidence, distraction, and can lead to consequences such as gambling, shopping

sprees, drinking, and taking more risks.

During A Raisin in The Sun, Walter Lee proves his diagnosis of Mania in his words, which are

expressed through his constant irritability and excessive confidence. An example of Walter exhibiting his

irriatbility is in the beginning of the story. Walter is having breakfast, but he isn’t eating his eggs. His

wife asks him politely to start eating his eggs and he yells: “‘DAMN MY EGGS. DAMN ALL THE

EGGS THAT EVER WAS!’” (Hansberry 1547). This shows how easily aggravated he can be, even when

he is not being yelled at. According to Very Well, an informational website addressing psychological

disorders, states that “Periods of mania are sometimes marked by feelings of irritability.” (“A List of

Psychological Disorders”). This proves that Walter Lee is very easily irritated, expressed in his words

above, which is a common symptom of Mania. As well, throughout the duration of the story, Walter Lee

exhibits excessive confidence, which is another apparent symptom of Mania. An example of Walter

exhibiting this symptom is when he heard that Mama would earn ten thousand dollars. Once he heard, he

got an idea to open a liquor store with the money. He constantly asked Mama for the money and her

consent to try to open the store. Before Mama gives him six thousand and five hundred dollars, he tells

her “‘Sometimes it’s like I can see the future stretched out in front of me-- just plain as day… Hanging

over there at the edge of my days. Just waiting for me-- a big, looming blank of space-- full of nothing.’”

(Hansberry 1567). This shows his excessive amount of confidence because he is assuming that he will be

successful in opening the store and making money will be easy. However, the process of opening a store

is not as easy as Walter expects. Very Well explains that “Periods of Mania are sometimes marked by

feelings of excessive confidence.” (“A List of Psychological Disorders”). This connects Walter’s

inaccessible aspirations to his diagnosis of Mania. Walter Lee’s words help to show that he is suffering

from Mania based off of the symptoms he expresses.

Alike to his words, Walter Lee’s actions furthermore prove that he has Mania and address

additional symptoms such as being hyper and taking more risks. Walter exhibits how hyper he can be

when Beneatha got her Ethiopian costume from Asagai. She began to sing and dance with her costume

on, and Walter joined her as he stood up on the dinner table “​He pulls his shirt open and leaps up on the

table and gestures with his spear.” ​(Hansberry 1570). As Walter was on the table, he imagined a spear in

his hand and he spoke to an imaginary tribe. Very Well states that “Mania is characterized by feeling

overly excited and even hyper.” (“A List of Psychological Disorders”). This links Walter’s foolish actions

of standing on tables to his mental disorder. The last symptom being proven is his issue with taking risks.

Once Walter earned his money to open a store, he trusted a friend of his to hold his money and then give

it to Bobo. Walter then figures out that his friend never gave Bobo the money, instead he stole it. Walter

is devastated when he heard the news, and Mama asked him “‘Son… Is it gone? Son, I gave you

sixty-five hundred dollars. Is it gone? All of it?’”, and Walter replies “‘Yessss! All of it… It’s all

gone…’” (Hansberry 1596). Walter took an enormous risk by trusting someone with that large of an

amount of money. Very Well explains that “Examples of impaired judgement are extreme impulsiveness

(risk-taking) and a lack of insight into the consequences of an action or behavior.” (“Symptoms of Mania

in Bipolar Disorder”). This quote connects and proves that Walter’s mistake with trusting his money to

someone else is caused from his disorder. Furthermore, Walter Lee’s deranged actions such as standing

on the table and giving his money away show his symptoms of being hyper and taking risks. Completely

proving his diagnosis of Mania.

For those who do not believe that Walter Lee Younger has Mania, and might believe that he has

something less severe such as ADHD, they should take into consideration that Walter exhibits manic

highs and lows. ADHD has nothing to do with emotions, while Mania is all about emotions and

depression. When Walter heard that his sixty-five hundred dollars was stolen, he got into a manic-type of

mood. Walter began to cry, and suddenly erupted into rage. As he begins to get upset and cry he said

“‘Willy!... Willy… don’t do it… Please don’t do it… Man, not with that money… Man, please, not with

that money… Oh, God… Don’t let it be true… Man… I trusted you… Man, I put my life in your hands…

Man…’ he begins to cry ‘THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF MY FATHER’S FLESH--’ Walter bangs

his fist on the floor” (Hansberry 1596). Walter’s mood suddenly changed and went from a low to a high,

also known as sadness to rage. All of it occurred in the matter of seconds. That is what a bipolar disorder

can do to someone, and what a hyperactivity disorder doesn’t have the ability to do.

It is completely proven that Walter Lee Younger has a bipolar disorder known as Mania due to

his symptoms being shown in the story time and time again. His symptoms include irritability, excessive

confidence, taking risks, being hyper, which all caused him to have long-term consequences such as

drinking. Research has been conducted and says that bipolar disorders affect about 5.7 million American

adults, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population 18 or older. Although not many people have manic

depression, know that people with bipolar disorders struggle with depression, anxiety and more.

Works Cited

"A Raisin in the Sun (1961)." ​IMDb​., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2017.

Kendra Cherry | Reviewed by Steven Gans, MD. "Explore This List of Psychological Disorders in the

DSM-5." ​Verywell​. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2017.

Hansberry, Lorraine. ​A Raisin in the Sun​. Oxford,: Benediction Classics, 2017. Print.

Marcia Purse | Reviewed by Steven Gans, MD. "How to Spot Signs of Bipolar Mania in Yourself and

Others." ​Verywell​. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2018.